Intel Core i7 4960X Linux Performance
Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 10 October 2013. Page 7 of 7. 14 Comments

The Intel Core i7 4960X "Ivy Bridge Extreme" is certainly one hell of a processor running at 4.0GHz and having twelve threads and 15MB of cache. In many tests, the i7-4960X provided double-digit gains over the i7-3960X "Sandy Bridge Extreme" and the Core i7 4770K "Haswell", but that doesn't make it the clear-cut winner.

In some of the workloads that are able to take advantage of Haswell's newer instruction sets (e.g. AVX2), the i7-4770K was superior. In other workloads, the i7-4770K performance was close -- yet this high-end Haswell desktop processor goes for ~$350 USD while the top-end Ivy Bridge Extreme goes for $1000. Going for the Core i7 4960X or the other IVB-E processors (the 4930X and 4820K) is also locking you into the LGA-2011 socket with X79 Chipset that will be phased out when Haswell Extreme Edition processors come about in the next year or two.

Had the Ivy Bridge Extreme processors been introduced prior to June's Haswell launch, the story could have been different but now the Core i7 4960X has to compete against the high-end Haswell CPUs on the newer 8-Series chipsets that cost less than half of the top-end IVB-E. While it's more of a tough sell, the Ivy Bridge Extreme is still certainly worthwhile for multi-threaded workloads that can heavily benefit from more than four cores (or eight threads), systems that require up to 64GB of quad-channel RAM over Haswell's 32GB dual-channel limit, require a greater number of PCI Express lanes, or you already have a LGA-2011 system that's in for the long-haul and are looking to further enhance its performance.

As another selling point, there's also the (small) possibility for enterprise users that may need to upgrade now but are locked into running older versions of Linux (or Solaris/BSD) operating systems that don't yet have mature support for Haswell CPUs and its new chipsets. This is where some enterprise users could benefit from the i7-4960X being on the year-old Ivy Bridge architecture with a chipset and motherboard socket that has been around for two years having better open-source kernel/driver support.

The current Linux support for Ivy Bridge Extreme is great and you'll see the Intel Core i7 4960X featured in many more Phoronix benchmarking articles to come. I'll also be tossing some BSD and Solaris platforms on the MSI X79 + Core i7 4960X EE system too for seeing how well the pricey six-core CPU works on other open-source operating systems.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.


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